The heat and humidity of summer are here, but people in Tokyo don’t let that stop them from having fun. Summer is a time of festivals and celebrations in Tokyo. And it a time for…fireworks!
The Japanese seem to love fireworks displays, and there are some impressive ones here. I recently observed one of the biggest – the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival.
They say this festival dates back to the 1700s, and it’s a popular one. Roughly a million people converge on the Sumida River area of Asakusa every year to see this remarkable event.
This year, the fireworks display had to be postponed a day. A little thing like a typhoon interrupted the festivities. But the typhoon passed, and the fireworks – originally scheduled for Saturday night – proceeded one day later on Sunday.
This year, I walked to the Asakusa area. There are trains that go there, and if you go early, it’s not a problem. But with so many people coming to the show, the trains get very crowded. And, be on notice – there is never a full train in Tokyo. You just push harder to get on. You’ll get to know your fellow passengers better than you might ever want to…
I walked around the Sumida River area for awhile, and crossed the bridge over the river. I found a street that was closed and people were beginning to settle in. Many bring blankets, coolers, and food. It’s a street party in every sense, with hundreds (thousands?) of people having a good time.
I made a good choice of locations. I had a (mostly) unobstructed view of the fireworks. I couldn’t see the river from my vantage point, but had a great view of the fireworks. And it was an amazing show, lasting a full hour.
Then, when the fireworks are over, you have a million people all trying to leave.
I quickly dismissed the trains – the line just to get in the train station stretched more than a block. So, I started walking towards home. The nice thing about Tokyo is that you can walk just about anywhere at night, and not feel unsafe. I walked along the train tracks, down past a few stations. And was able to find a station with almost no line. An easy commute home.
Tokyo’s summer festivals are often very crowded, and the heat can be intense. But bring some water, maybe a snack, and a lot of patience…and you’ll be rewarded with some amazing experiences.